Son Number One turned ten years old last week. Ten! Now, many of you with older or grownup kids are probably saying, “Been there,” and many of you without any kids are saying, “So what?”
I can assure you, when you have children, and the oldest one turns ten, the first thought through your head is, “Holy crap, I’m old!” Then the second thought is, “Holy crap, he can’t actually be ten. He was just five a few minutes ago, and now he’s in double digits?”
Then you do the math again, and then the thought hits you that if he has really been around the house for ten years already, then it’s only eight more years until you have to pay for college. Which, apparently, in parent years is only like six and a half minutes.
Then you faint.
Then your wife revives you by kicking you in the ribs and saying, “Get up, old man.”
You start to come to, muttering, “need… more… money.”
You wife responds, “Tell me about it!”
You get the feeling she didn’t know you were referring to your son.
She has known he was turning ten for a while. That’s because she is a woman and doesn’t forget things like the birthdays of her children. You, on the other hand, being a man, were reminded of his birthday the same way you have always been; by your dentist’s office. They send a nice Happy Birthday email every year.
I actually had quite a few clues leading up to the date, because my wife had already thrown him ten separate birthday parties. Not parties with cakes and hats and noise makers, mind you, but little events labeled as “doing this for his birthday.”
His birthday falls on the Thanksgiving break every year, so every year my wife uses his birthday as an excuse to do things. We went to the movies “for his birthday.” Before that we had gone to pizza “for his birthday.” And mini golf. And ice cream. And dinner out.
Oh, and Monterey. That’s a whole separate town. It’s a three-hour drive from here. We were going there anyway for a family baby shower, but my wife mysteriously used his birthday as an excuse to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium the next day. I don’t know why we needed an excuse, but there we were, looking at hammerhead sharks and watching bat rays mate “for his birthday.”
And that was all before Thanksgiving. Then the family arrived for Turkey Day, and the aunts and uncles and grandparents spoiled him all over again. I’m pretty sure he thought the actual Thanksgiving dinner was “for his birthday.”
I have mentioned to my wife on a number of occasions that I think we might be spoiling him a little. She sees no issue. I have even brought up the possibility that the other two boys might eventually notice, and possibly resent, the disparity between their birthday celebration and those of Son Number One.
Yes, I said “celebration.” Singular. Son Number Two and Three are two years apart, but they were both born in April, and their birthdays are four days apart. They get a single party between the two of them, with some leftover Easter candy and maybe a cupcake if they’re lucky.
Now, please don’t misunderstand. It’s not that my wife is playing favorites; it’s just that she is sensitive to a certain specific birthday problem; namely, sharing your birthday with a major holiday. She had a rough childhood, birthday-wise. She was born on Christmas Eve.
Sharing your birthday celebration with The Big Guy can’t be easy for a kid in the first place (and I love her parents dearly, and not to throw them under the bus publicly), but one year when the family was having house guests for Christmas, they forgot her birthday completely.
I guess their dentist’s office didn’t have a reliable email service back then.
So, you can see where she could be a little worried about her son “sharing” his birthday with a big holiday. So I cut her some slack when she overcompensates a little with the whole “doing this for his birthday” thing.
I just pity his future wife. He might throw a fit if she doesn’t cook him a turkey with stuffing on his birthday and take him to the aquarium. I’ll give her my in-laws’ phone number. I blame them.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shop for a small combination birthday/Christmas gift for my wife. She loves those.
See you soon,
Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen
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